In My Kitchen: Peaches, Vanilla, Rhubarb

:: We have entered the season of rustic fruit desserts. And I am delighted. There have been an abundance of rainy days around these parts, which just means more time for baking. First up was an upside down peach cornmeal cake. Then a rhubarb and apple pandowdy. All I can think about right now is strawberries. And homemade ice cream with fresh raw cream. And berries. And...

:: "Slow and steady" is our motto around here when it comes to taking on more made-from-scratch projects. I have learned from experience that I need to make the commitment to making one item at a time and have it solidly a part of my daily/weekly/monthly rhythm before I try to add something else. The latest item we've decided to make ourselves rather than buy at the store? Vanilla extract. This one is incredibly easy and I can't believe I haven't done it sooner. Just pour some vodka over split vanilla beans (three beans to one cup of vodka), bottle (old maple syrup bottles work especially well), and wait two months. Done. Finally, those bottles of vodka that have been languishing in the back of my kitchen cupboards can be put to good use. No longer will they catch my eye and make me remember days long passed where I, well, drank a lot of vodka.

:: Rhubarb! I tried to plant some rhubarb when we first moved into this house, but it never took.  So, I have to rely on the kindness of friends and neighbors to feed my habit for this tart vegetable. This afternoon will be spent chopping and planning. I got five pounds, which seemed like a lot at the time, but now I'm thinking another pound or two couldn't hurt...


  1. That peach dessert looks amazing! Where can I find the recipe?
    I have been meaning to try homemade vanilla as well.. although I haven't yet tried to find vanilla beans. Will most natural food stores have them?

    1. The recipe is in the book "Rustic Fruit Desserts", although here's an adapted version online:

      You'll love it!

      I think most natural food stores should have vanilla beans. I bought mine through Azure Standard ( when they were on sale for about $1/bean. You can also find them on Amazon. Go for it! It's super easy. :)

  2. do you think you could use bourbon to make vanilla?
    that dessert looks lovely.
    and one last question, can you wash, chop and freeze rhubarb? we have a bunch from the farmer's market. thanks

    1. Mmmmmm...bourbon vanilla! I haven't tried it myself, but I've read that you absolutely can use bourbon to make vanilla. The ratio is the same, 3 vanilla beans to one cup bourbon.

      Yup, rhubarb is easy to freeze! I chop, spread out on a cookie sheet to freeze and then store in a plastic bag. I just used the last of what I had last year to make room for the new. :)